EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Federal authorities in El Paso on Monday will begin registering asylum-seekers and returning them to Mexico a short time later as the Migrant Protection Protocols program re-starts.
“For now, DHS is required under the court-ordered injunction to re-implement MPP in good faith and has been taking steps to do so.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. “Mexico has required several humanitarian improvements as a condition of agreeing to accept MPP enrollees. These are improvements that we agree with and will be making, starting with El Paso where MPP implementation will begin today.”
The program, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” will be expanded to other locations along the Southwest border in the coming days, CBP said.
The agency did not give any details on the logistics of access at the U.S. ports of entry between El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. When the Trump administration started MPP more than two years ago, a Juarez shelter and then the Chihuahua State Population Council were in charge of pre-screening the asylum-seekers and sending them across the border whenever CBP told them they were ready to receive a pre-determined number of people. This practice, known as metering, was heavily criticized by migrant advocates in the U.S., as they say it denies due process to those that are not called.
The advocates are opposed to MPP as a whole, pointing out that by returning people fleeing for their safety to Mexican border cities where not only organized crime runs rampant, but also migrants are targeted for extortion, kidnapping and other crimes.
And while 30 people per day will be able to stake asylum claims and wait months to be called back to the U.S. for court hearings, all other non-exempt foreigners who come across the U.S. border without authorization are still subject to the Title 42 public health order that allows their immediate expulsion to prevent the cross-border spread of COVID-19.
Early Monday in Juarez, no crowds were reported at the foot of the Paso del Norte International Bridge, which is where MPP petitioners were allowed to come across during the Trump administration.
A Juarez newspaper reported that at least half of the migrants waiting in that Mexican border city to cross into the United States — 7,500 by its estimates — are from the interior of Mexico. The newspaper reported unrest Sunday at the largest private migrant shelter in Juarez on Sunday, as lawyers explained that the bulk of the guests there would be ineligible to file asylum claims in the U.S. under MPP.
“They are upset,” the Rev. Javier Calvillo, head of Casa del Migrante, told El Diario.
The U.S. does not return asylum-seekers to the country from which they are fleeing if they show “credible fear.”
Many people from the interior of Mexico who have arrived in Juarez have told Border Report and numerous other news media they are fleeing drug violence. Some have provided first-hand accounts of relatives being killed by drug traffickers or of themselves having been extorted or threatened by the cartels.
Migrant advocates in Juarez say these Mexicans end up trying to cross the U.S. border illegally, numerous times in many cases.